A titanic clash awaits as Ivory Coast and DR Congo prepare to battle it out in the semi-finals of the AFCON. Both teams have been resilient and shown glimpses of brilliance throughout the tournament and can book a place in the final of African Football’s greatest continental showpiece.

To win (90 min)

Ivory Coast 11/10
Draw 33/20
Congo DR 11/4

 Ivory Coast

The Elephants have displayed determination to reach this stage despite a shaky start to their campaign. A 4 nil drubbing at the hands of Equatorial Guinea in the final group match saw head coach Jean-Louis Gasset get the axe mid-tournament.

After being left to lick their wounds, the host nation settled for a third-place finish in Group A, which was enough to secure a place in the round of 16. Ivory Coast’s interim coach Emerse Fae could not have been dealt a more difficult opponent in the knockouts. The emergency managerial appointment was tasked with navigating the reigning AFCON champions Senegal – who came into that one with a perfect record in the competition.

If that wasn’t miraculous enough, Fae conjured up another amazing escape act as Oumar Diakite’s 122nd-minute winner sent the 10-man Elephants into the semi-finals at heartbroken Mali’s expense. This is Ivory Coast’s 10th appearance in the AFCON semi’s and first since 2015 when they beat (this year’s opponents) DR Congo 3-1 under Hervé Renard and went on to lift the trophy.

DR Congo

Meanwhile, Congo DR has been a surprise package in this year’s tournament, exceeding expectations with their impressive performances. The Leopards have now made the semi-final stage of the tournament for a sixth time.

Playing an exciting brand of football, the team is spearheaded by Yoane Wissa who has already netted twice in the tournament and they will rely on the Brentford forward to help them book a place in the final for the first time since 1974. That being said, only four players have ever scored in three separate games at a single AFCON for the Central African outfit: Mayanga Maku in 1972 (3), Ndaye Mulamba in 1974 (5), Jerry Tondelua in 1998 (3) and Junior Kabananga in 2017 (3).

Wissa was instrumental in Sebastien Desabre’s men knocking seven-time champions Egypt out to reach the quarter-finals. DR Congo went ahead when Elia nodded in Wissa’s cross to put the team ranked 67th in the world on course for the latest surprise result at a tournament which has been illuminated by underdog success in Ivory Coast. Goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi scored the 18th penalty of a nerve-shredding shoot-out as DR Congo pulled off one of the upsets of the tournament. With the Congolese showing steel on more than one occasion, I expect this one to go down to the wire!

Prediction: Ivory Coast

This semi-final clash is set to be a fiercely contested battle between two evenly matched-teams. Ivory Coast will have the home advantage, but DR Congo has shown they are more than capable of causing an upset. Ultimately, I believe Ivory Coast’s experience will see them through to the final. Expect a closely fought encounter with the hosts just edging past DR Congo to secure their place in the AFCON final.

Written by Nigel Naicker